Fed Stays the Course, Discusses Taper Outlook, and Awaits New Leader

Last week, at its regularly scheduled two-day meeting, the Fed left current policy unchanged and only slightly updated the post-meeting announcement language to mention improved financial conditions.  The Fed repeated its forward guidance that any reduction in asset purchases (tapering) would begin only once there was “further evidence that progress will be sustained.”  As the current FOMC and its leader choose to stay the course, the nominated and likely future leader Janet Yellen is beginning the confirmation process.  There are two reasons to watch this confirmation process closely.  First, some U.S. politicians are sure to offer pure entertainment in the form of ridiculous questions and statements.  Second, during the hearings, she is likely to provide investors with some meaningful insights into her perspective on the economy, QE’s effectiveness, and her preferred data triggers for beginning to taper.  We recommend that our clients keep in mind that Yellen will be leading (not dictating to) a seasoned Federal Open Market Committee and that the incoming committee is likely to be more hawkish than the current group.